Of all the Japan days so far, today’s the most exciting! Me and Divya went for a fun trip with no plans or itinerary. We had a couple of places in mind, but were pretty sure that’s not what we’d do anyway. We began with Kyoto station. Every time we have been here, it’s always a rush to get out or hop onto another train. For a change, we thought of exploring the station first. Not a bad decision at all, as it turned out! Walking to a tourist information centre, we saw an array of brochures with all the cool things to do in Kyoto. Places we hadn’t planned for, things we totally missed out on – the list was huge! Of the lot, the things that caught our attention was the cycle rentals and the bus pass. We got a bus pass worth 600 yen, that would take you around within the fixed-price area of the city, for any number of rides. We were pretty sure of making the best use of it! The plan to rent a cycle and go around the city was conveniently put on hold.
We hopped into a bus towards Kinkakuji. But we now have a bus pass, and can make any number of stops. So when the bus announced Nijo-jo Castle, we got down there. And that’s the story of how we went to Nijo! It was meant to be a quick visit, since we wanted to do the most of the day. But again, it was a very huge, but beautiful place to walk around and see. The castle was pretty much similar to the traditional interiors that we saw at Hikone. The garden and the open space around it were charmingly pleasant. Despite rushing, we took slightly more than an hour at Nijo.
Soon after, we got into a bus to Kinkakuji. Two stops or so before Kinkakuji, I saw the most satisfying sight of the day. Ganesha, the Indian Restaurant! If only if the buses were more like back home, I would have howled and begged and gotten down right there. Then again, this is a different country. So I chose to embrace my yearning in silence.
We got down for Kinkakuji, right in front of a curio store. Curious us got in to explore the shop. And to my surprise, a lot of things in my shopping list was available right there! After an elaborate shopping, hunger kicked in before we could think of Kinkakuji. For a brief time, we considered going to Ganesha for a lavish lunch. ‘we’ is wrong, ‘considered’ is even more wrong. Divya didn’t consider, and I was not just ‘considering’. I almost dragged Divya to the bus stop, jumping up and down for food. The excitement died a slow death when Divya pointed out that they serve lunch only till 3 pm and it was already 2.54 pm! We got into a nearby cafe to find something to eat. It’s there that I realised Divya is a kind person indeed. She chose to order pasta without meat! And I expressed my gratitude with a ginger ale. 😛
With satisfaction, we started to Kinkakuji finally. I had no expectations, but the place was mesmerising. Photos of the place weren’t edited perhaps! It really looked as beautiful as a painting; perfect blend of a lot of hues! The walk around the place wasn’t that interesting though. But there’s no way to exit other than walking through it. We walked around, and exited the place a while after 5. The Japanese thing about lucks and charms are intriguing. The number of charms they have, and the beliefs they hold on to, are huge. On our way out, we saw a lot of places with a small deity in stone, covered with coins. As the belief goes, offering the coins to those deities heralds luck.
Next stop at Shijo Kawaramachi was a long ride away. The exhaustion of the day was settling in, but we had a lot more to do. After a lot of ‘shop-hopping, we called it a day. And once again, Divya made me realise she’s a very kind person. She ordered plain margherita pizza! How kind is she! And I said thanks with potato wedges! After a barely filling dinner, we got into a really crowded bus, back to Kyoto station. In better words, I got in hoping Divya also did, and she got in hoping I too did. The bus was insanely crowded! Somehow making it to the station, we got to the train, and thereafter to i-house in the last bus! The last bus feeling was so exciting and made the day feel more complete than ever!